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song reviews

Wild Flag

"Glass Tambourine"

8

You might expect the first studio leak from this group of well-established indie rockers to be one part aggro-daydream (Helium frontwoman Mary Timony) to two parts rocket thrust (Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss) with a taste of garage-pop sugar (the Minders' keyboardist Rebecca Cole). Actually, "Glass Tambourine" — half of a seven-inch vinyl single due out on Record Store Day, April 16th — sounds like some wicked 1960s acid-rock yard-sale discovery, wi... | More »

March 21, 2011

The Cars

"Sad Song"

8

It's as if they never left. "Sad Song" — the lead single from Move Like This, the Cars' first studio album in 24 years — opens with a rolling-machine groove that sparkles like 1978's "My Best Friend's Girl" with a fresh coat of chrome. But the Cars — especially singer-guitarist Ric Ocasek — were a deceptively dark ride, with a bleak undertow in Ocasek's songwriting and the band's sleek, noirish minimalism. "Too many clowns saying everythin... | More »

March 15, 2011

Christina Perri

"Arms"

6

Matching the young-adult tumult of Kelly Clarkson with the wind-swept angst of Florence and the Machine, Perri's 2010 smash hit "Jar of Hearts" was bad-boyfriend-crushing piano pop — the kind of thing that you crank as you decide which local cliff to jump off when your high school love dumps you for a Cheerio. Her newest blast of feelings-napalm is a ballad that starts out placid and folky, then picks up intensity and volume, as grand melodic swooshes (and timpani!) imply romantic ... | More »

March 11, 2011

Tyler, the Creator

"Yonkers"

6

Who says the kids are all right? Over a dark, chorus-free drone, the 19-year-old Angeleno (who heads up blog-beloved rap crew Odd Future) shouts out his therapist and dreams of stabbing "Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus." It's gleeful psychodrama that makes Kanye seem well-adjusted. Listen to "Yonkers": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

March 9, 2011

Katy Perry

"E.T. (feat. Kanye West)"

4

The best thing about this version of Perry's leaden electro-pop jam is Yeezy flinging a pitch-shifted 16 before the song really begins — though rhyming "astronaut" with "get ass a lot," he sounds like he's checking his diamond-profile wristwatch. Listen to "E.T. (feat. Kanye West)": Gallery: Katy Perry's Best Looks | More »

March 7, 2011

The Decemberists

"Cuyahoga"

8

The Decemberists-R.E.M. lovefest continues with one of the latter's great sleepers (from Life's Rich Pageant), covered live for Morning Becomes Eclectic. Pretty faithful — except for Jenny Conlee's accordion, which adds a gentle brauhaus bounce. How about a dual tour? Please? Listen to "Cuyahoga": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

March 4, 2011

Britney Spears

"Till the World Ends"

7

Click to listen to Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends" You want a party song, call a partier. Written by Ke$ha (with Max Martin and Dr. Luke), the second single from Femme Fatale is ginormously pumping uber-Euro uber-disco: sky-sucking synth streaks, a beat that sounds like blimps fucking and a thousand shirtless drunken sailors chanting along on the chorus. Her gauzy vocals kind of drown in the tsunami track. But so would Pavarotti. Britney Spears: A Life in Photos | More »

March 2, 2011

Timbaland feat. Brandy

"808"

5

A month into his track-a-week "Timbaland Thursdays" series, Timbo already seems stretched thin. "808" is Tim-boilerplate: some kind words for his favorite drum machine, a few breaths of Brandy and a bland skitter beat. Listen to "808": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

February 28, 2011

Eminem

"Fly Away"

7

Why wasn't this fiery rant included on Eminem's last album? Unlike recent smashes "Not Afraid" and "Love the Way You Lie," this newly surfaced track (which didn't make the cut for Recovery) comes without any high concept — just Eminem spewing fantastic bile for five minutes. "I took a hiatus, haters, now I'm back to cause trouble/Got the fuckin' shape of mushroom clouds for thought bubbles," he fumes over producer Just Blaze's martial drum rolls and spare p... | More »

Tune-Yards

"Bizness"

8

One-woman art-pop tempest Merrill Garbus crafts an awesome collage of African rhythms and hip-shaking horns. Garbus' vocals conjure both Odetta and Janis Joplin, if they'd had looping software. Listen to "Bizness": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »
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